Literary Crushes: Objectifying the Men of Books

We’re supposed to grow out of the school girl crush phase of life, right? Because I’m only just thirty, and I’m finding myself backsliding. The worst part is, I’m not crushing on actual people that I could feasibly have a future with. I’m crushing on the characters of my favorite novels and stories, and I just can’t seem to get over it.

This all started – well restarted – in the last few weeks as I became completely and totally obsessed with The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. With one viewing and then the repeated consumption of the Pride & Prejudice story in its many formats in the days after, I fell all over again into crush with Darcy.

It’s a booknerd problem. He’s kind of awesome in all of his variations.

But it got me thinking about all the other literary character crushes I’ve had over the years. Here are a few:

Fitzwilliam Darcy
How can you not love someone so intense and brooding that it’s hard for him to even get to the words out that he loves you and when he does it finally, he’s so inept that he insults you in the process? Doesn’t make sense? I don’t know what you mean.

The childhood sweetheart is one of those things I just can’t shake myself of loving. Heathcliff – as a man – may be in love with the most diabolical and spoiled rotten girl in English literature (yes I know that’s a harsh judgement) but he adores her with his whole being. How can you not crush a little on a man like that?

I know there’s a lot to be squeamish about in Jane Eyre. He’s so much older than Jane. He’s locked his first wife in the attic because she’s lost her mind. And he tries to marry his new love while still married to his first love. But he’s tall and brooding and runs back into a burning building to save people. And given the folk tales around crazy wives and husbands who want new wives, locking Bertha in the attic is pretty tame. She’s completely out of her mind after all.

Over the Americas!

Almanzo Wilder
I grew up reading Laura Ingall‘s story of the American frontier. Manly (nice nickname) courts her the old fashioned way, taking her for sleigh rides, driving her home from her teaching job in the dead of winter, and allowing the priest to not use the word “obey” in the marriage ceremony. What more could a girl on the frontier want in a husband?

Adam Trask
East of Eden is a long sweeping saga of the American dream. There are some truly horrific characters in it, but I found myself crushing hardcore on honest, hardworking Adam Trask from the beginning. He may have been a tough customer at some points but over all I found myself mooning over him somewhat anyways.

I’m totally going to get yelled at by my comic reading friends for this, but I go with the Wolverine I remember reading as a kid rather than trying to suss out which version of Wolverine I had the biggest crush on over the long course of his saga in various comics from the X-Men universe. I’m going to be honest. There’s something brutally attractive about the Wolverine I grew up reading. He was rough and tumble. He had a seemingly unending crush on various women on the X-Men team, and he was dependable despite what he said about not wanting to put down roots anywhere. And then along came Hugh Jackman to play him in movies and the crush was solidified forever.

I have to be honest. There are few literary characters I don’t develop crushes on at some point or another unless they are just well and truly evil to the core. It helps that they are completely fictional, and I can only pay attention to all the things that make them great rather than focusing on the things that make them human.

Wait. That almost sounds like objectification. Oh well.

Image by ShutterStock

  • Rebecca Kennedy

    Give me Edgar over Heathcliff ANY day! He was so ABUSIVE! And creepy. I understand he had never ending love, but he didn’t just tip toe over the lover/stalker line, he sprinted across it, and Edward Cullen followed his lead. Digging up her corpse and admiring her decaying body? Really? Let the woman rest =/ Where as Edgar started as whimpering and weak and grew stronger with age…. the man was as good as a fine wine.

  • Colleen Sweeney

    I love Rochester, Darcy, and Heathcliff! I fully realize that Heathcliff was incredibly abusive and a massive jerk, but he is an interesting character. As for Rochester, he is also a jerk for playing with Jane’s emotions and proposing to her, knowing full well his sick wife was up in the tower.

  • Dana M. Abel

    Ugh, I too LOVE Almanzo Wilder. The book where they fall in love (These Happy Golden Years) is still one of my all time favorite books. Like, top 5.

  • Gina Vaynshteyn

    I totally am with you on Adam Trask! Poor guy.

  • Andrea Fern├índez

    Love Darcy since I’ve ever known about him. Just as you wroye, I have a booknerd problem. :)

  • Andrea Fern├índez

    Love Darcy since I’ve ever known about him. Just as you wrote, I have a booknerd problem. :)

  • Josee Levesque

    How no mention of John Thornton from Gaskell’s North and South??

    • Rachael Berkey

      I haven’t read it. :( BUT. I did love the BBC miniseries. :)

  • Naomi Prale

    This is amazing. My top crush is Gilbert Blythe, and Marcus Flutie is a close second.

  • Korah Lombardi

    Theodore Laurence, Holden Caulfield……so many

  • Amanda Sabourin Jagiello

    Rochester is my favorite- intelligent, tragic, passionate. How can one not be obsessed with him?

  • Kayla Burns

    I love that you mention the Lizzie Bennet Diaries! Seriously so good!

  • Hilary June

    I know exactly what you mean! Gilbert Blythe (movie version and books 1-5) I mean coooome ooooon.

  • Amanda Alguire Vredenburgh

    I watched ALL of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries in 2 days last week. They have renewed my loved for Darcy.

    Also….Michael Fassbender as Rochester in the newest Jane Eyre adaptation? Yes please.

  • Annika Boet

    I love the Lizzie Bennet Diaries and well I grew up watching the series with my parents and because I loved it so much they gave me all the books too. They are so great, and every once a while, I just pick one up and read the story :)

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